By Megan Bianco
Two years ago when it was announced Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga were finally leading the fourth remake of A Star is Born after a decade in development, most laughed or tossed the information aside. Then the trailer dropped, and things started to appear interesting.
When the movie (and the subsequent soundtrack) were released to rave reviews, box office returns and numerous fans, it wasn’t a surprise when the award nominations started coming in. But what’s most surprising is that despite the fans and critics agreeing that A Star is Born was one of 2018’s best, it actually has been winning barely anything this Oscars season.
What gives? Well, let’s take a look back on the past versions of the story and see how well they did with accolades.
The thing about A Star is Born is that it’s a fairly simple story, yet always does very well with audiences because it’s a universal love story anyone can enjoy. During the first act, the girl is a nobody and the guy is very famous—though on the verge of irrelevancy at any moment. During the second act, they meet in the middle on the level of stardom. Then by the third act, the guy is washed up and the girl is on top of the world.
In 1932, it was originally called What Price Hollywood? and was released to an underwhelming theater run. But it did do very well with critics and managed a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination at the Academy Awards.
Because of the barely modest success of What Price Hollywood? it was probably easier for mega-producer David O. Selznick to revamp basically the same plot just five years later, now called A Star is Born (1937). This time the movie did very well with reviewers and audiences, and gained a whooping seven Oscar nominations (including Best Screenplay, which it won). The stunning film was also honored with a special Oscar for its groundbreaking use of technicolor cinematography.
As of the moment, the 1937 version by William Wellman has the most Oscars of all A Star is Born efforts.
Flash forward to 1954 and A Star is Born is now an epic movie musical with Hollywood favorite George Cukor directing 22 years after penning What Price Hollywood? It’s yet again a big hit, and snags six Oscar nominations, including lead stars Judy Garland and James Mason. Garland would be infamously snubbed for Grace Kelly in The Country Girl, though both she and Mason did win Golden Globes. And Cukor’s 1954 attempt would go home completely empty-handed.
The weakest critical reception for A Star is Born would be director Frank Pierson and producer Jon Peters’ 1976 rock music feature. Though it was big at the theater, the greatest praise for this remake was for the movie’s theme song, “Evergreen,” which won Best Original Song at the Oscars.
Interestingly, the 2018 remake’s theme song, “Shallow,” has garnered a nomination for the same award. Now we wait until Feb. 24 to see if Cooper’s updated feature can nab more than one Oscar.
Megan Bianco is a Southern California-based movie reviewer and content writer with a degree from California State University Northridge.
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